Skip Program Navigation
Special Education--Grants to States

Current Section  Purpose
 Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Home

Program Office: Office of Special Education Programs(OSEP)

CFDA Number: 84.027
Program Type: Formula Grants
Also Known As: Grants to States for Education of Children with Disabilities, Part B, Sec. 611


The Grants to States program provides formula grants to assist the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Secretary of the Interior, Outlying Areas, and the Freely Associated States in meeting the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. In order to be eligible for funding, states must serve all children with disabilities between the ages of 3 through 21, except that they are not required to serve children aged 3 through 5 or 18 through 21 years if services are inconsistent with state law or practice or the order of any court. A state that does not provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities aged 3 through 5 cannot receive base payment funds attributable to this age group or any funds under the Preschool Grants program.

Funds are allocated among states in accordance with a variety of factors. First, each state is allocated an amount equal to the amount that it received for fiscal year 1999. If the total program appropriation increases over the prior year, 85 percent of the remaining funds are allocated based on the number of children in the general population in the age range for which the states guarantee FAPE to children with disabilities. Fifteen percent of the remaining funds are allocated based on the number of children living in poverty that are in the age range for which the states guarantee FAPE to children with disabilities.

Most of the federal funds provided to states must be passed on to LEAs. However, a portion of the funds may be used for state-level activities. Any funds not set aside by the state must be passed through to LEAs. These sub-state allocations are made in a fashion similar to that used to allocate funds among states when the amount available for allocation to states increases.

A state may reserve for state administration up to the greater of the maximum amount the state could reserve for state administration from fiscal year 2004 funds, or $800,000, increased by inflation as reflected by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. For fiscal year 2015, the latter amount is estimated to be $1,035,095.

A state may also reserve funds for a variety of other state-level activities such as monitoring, enforcement, addressing personnel needs, and providing technical assistance to LEAs. One authorized activity involves allocating set-aside funds to support a risk pool, or high cost fund, that is used to assist LEAs in meeting the costs of serving high need, high-cost children. If a state opts to use state-level funds for a risk pool, it must use 10 percent of the funds it reserves for other state-level activities for this purpose. Federal funds set aside by a state must be distributed to LEAs or consortia of LEAs to address the needs of specific high-cost children.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) also requires each state to maintain its level of state financial support for special education and related services from one year to the next. This requirement is commonly referred to as the state “maintenance of effort, or MOE.” The IDEA also contains a local “maintenance of effort” requirement. Under this requirement, each LEA must maintain its total expenditures, including state and local contributions, on special education from one year to the next.

This is a forward-funded program that includes advance appropriations. In a typical year, a portion of the funds—the forward-funded portion—becomes available for obligation on July 1 of the fiscal year of the appropriation and remains available for 15 months, through September 30 of the following year. The remaining funds—the advance appropriation—become available for obligation on October 1 of the fiscal year following the year of the appropriations act and remain available for 12 months, expiring at the same time as the forward-funded portion. For fiscal year 2015, school districts will use both the forward- and advance-funded amounts primarily during the 2015-2016 school year.

The numbers of children with disabilities expected to be served for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 is 6.574 million children, the same level as reported by states for fiscal year 2013.


Funds under this program are combined with state and local funds to provide FAPE to children with disabilities. Permitted expenditures include the salaries of special education teachers and costs associated with related services personnel, such as speech therapists and psychologists. States may use funds reserved for other state-level activities for a variety of specified activities, including: support and direct services; technical assistance and personnel preparation; assisting LEAs in providing positive behavioral interventions and supports; and improving the use of technology in the classroom. Some portion of funds reserved for other state-level activities must be used for monitoring, enforcement, and complaint investigation, and to establish and implement the mediation process required by Sec. 615(e) of IDEA, including providing for the cost of mediators and support personnel.

Each state has the option to reserve a portion of the funds the state reserves for other state-level activities for a fund to assist LEAs in addressing the needs of high-cost children with disabilities. If the state opts to reserve for this fund, it may reserve a larger portion of its award for other state-level activities, and must reserve at least 10 percent of the amount set aside for other state-level activities for the fund.

In FY 2010, this program served 6,614,000 children.

Print this page Printable view Bookmark  and Share
Last Modified: 07/29/2014